Dictionary of National Biography, 1885-1900/Boulter, Hugh
BOULTER, HUGH (1672–1742), archbishop of Armagh, born in London 4 Jan. 1671-2, was descended from a 'reputable and estated family.' His father was John Boulter of St. Katharine Cree. He entered Merchant Taylors' School 11 Sept. 1685, matriculated at Christ Church, Oxford, 1686-7. He was an associate of Addison, and was subsequently made fellow of Magdalen College (B.A. 1690, M.A. 1693, D.D. 1708). In 1700 he received the appointment of chaplain to Sir Charles Hedges, secretary of state, and afterwards acted in the same capacity to Archbishop Tenison. Through the patronage of Charles Spencer, earl of Sunderland, Boulter was appointed to St. Olave's, Southwark (1708), and archdeacon of Surrey (1715-16). With Ambrose Philips, Zachary Pierce, bishop of Rochester, and others, Boulter contributed to a periodical established in 1718, and entitled 'The Free Thinker.' In 1719 Boulter attended George I as chaplain to Hanover, and was employed to instruct Prince Frederick in the English language. The king in the same year appointed him bishop of Bristol and dean of Christ Church, Oxford. Five years subsequently George nominated Boulter to the primacy of the protestant church in Ireland, then vacant, which he for a time hesitated to accept. The king's letter for his translation from the see of Bristol to that of Armagh was dated 31 Aug. 1724. In November of that year he arrived in Ireland, and Ambrose Philips accompanied him as his secretary. As a member of the privy council and lord justice in Ireland Boulter devoted himself with much assiduity to governmental business, as well as to the affairs of the protestant church. He approved of the withdrawal of Wood's patent for copper coinage. On other points he differed both with William King, archbishop of Dublin, and with Swift. One of Swift's last public acts was his condemnation of the measure promoted by Boulter for diminishing the value of gold coin and increasing the quantity of silver currency, which it was apprehended would, by causing an advance in the rent of land, increase the absentee drain from Ireland. Swift, in some satirical verses, ridiculed Boulter's abilities. Through Sir Robert Walpole and his connections in England Boulter acquired a predominating influence in administration and in the parliament at Dublin, where he considered himself to be the head of the 'English interest.' Boulter's state policy, to secure what he styled 'a good footing' for the 'English interest' in Ireland, was to confer important posts in church and state there on his own countrymen, to repress efforts of the protestants in Ireland towards constitutional independence, and to leave the Roman catholics subjected to penal legislation. By a statute enacted through Boulter's influence the Roman catholics were excluded from the legal profession, and disqualified from holding offices connected with the administration of law. Under another act passed through Boulter's exertions they were deprived of the right of voting at elections for members of parliament or magistrates—the sole constitutional right which they had been allowed to exercise. Boulter forwarded with great energy the scheme for protestant charter schools, with a view to strengthen the 'English interest,' by bringing over the Irish to the church of England. He gave many liberal contributions to protestant churches, and for the relief of the poor in periods of distress in Ireland. As a memorial of his charity, in 1741 a full-length portrait of him by Francis Bindon was placed in the hall of the poor house, Dublin. Boulter repeatedly held office as lord justice in Ireland during the absence of the viceroy, Carteret, and his successors, the Dukes of Dorset and Devonshire. The death of Boulter occurred at London on 27 Sept. 1742. He was interred in the north transept of Westminster Abbey, where a marble monument and bust were placed over his remains. 'Sermons,' and 'A Charge at his Primary Visitation in Ireland in 1725,' are his only published productions, with the exception of a portion of his correspondence. A selection of his letters was printed in two volumes at Oxford in 1769, under the superintendence of Ambrose Philips, who had acted as his, secretary in Ireland. This series consists of letters from November 1724 to December 1738, to state officials and eminent churchmen in England. They were republished at Dublin in 1770 by George Faulkner, who, in his introduction to them, observed that Boulter, with all his virtues, 'was too partially favourable to the people of England and too much prejudiced against the natives of Ireland.' In 1745 Dr. Samuel Madden published at London 'Boulter's Monument, a panegyrical poem.' This production, dedicated to Frederick, prince of Wales, was revised by Samuel Johnson, and quoted by him in his dictionary. A full-length portrait of Boulter is preserved in Magdalen College, and a bust of him is in the library of Christ Church, Oxford.
[Letters of Hugh Boulter, D.D., 1769-70; Biographia Britannica, 1780; O'Conor's Hist, of Irish Catholics, 1813; Stuart's Hist. Memoirs of Armagh, 1819; Works of Swift, ed. Sir W. Scott, 1824; Works of Samuel Johnson, 1825; Mant's Hist. of Church of Ireland, 1840; Boswell's Life of Johnson, ed. Napier, 1884; C. J. Robinson's Registers of Merchant Taylors' School, i. 315.]